What is a hypernym for the adjectives which describe various body parts or systems? For example:

  • eyes : ocular
  • lungs : pulmonary
  • ears : aural

How would I best phrase asking for such words, for example, if I wanted to know the equivalent word for the skin? (just an example, please don't respond with "cutaneous").

Example sentence:

Adjectives to describe body parts, for example pulmonary and aural, can all be referred to as [hypernym].

  • 1
    All of these words are adjectives. I was wondering if there was a word for this class of words, "pertaining to (body part)". For example, if I wanted to use a search engine to find such a word for "skin", I would search "skin (class)". – Dudeguy21 May 18 '18 at 19:41
  • 2
    I think it’s a good enough question to be here. The asker isn’t asking for "a medical word pertaining to (skin/eyes/ears)", but if there is a single word or official term for that specific type of word. A reverse dictionary might yield results. And FWIW, I would have said "dermal" for pertaining to skin. – Pam May 18 '18 at 19:54
  • 1
    They are all somatic terms (adjectives). Soma relating to the body Merriam Webster. – Nigel J May 18 '18 at 21:20
  • 1
    Question seems to have changed. I withdraw. – David May 18 '18 at 22:41
  • 2
    Here is almost a complete list of such terms headed Anatomic Adjectival forms. (julesberman.blogspot.in/2010/06/…) – mahmud koya May 19 '18 at 0:38

All of the following suggestions can be used to complete the sentence: What is (are) the _____ term(s) for words associated with [body part]?

Anatomic (@mahmudkoya)


  • Etymology: From Greek histos "warp, web," literally "anything set upright," from histasthai "to stand,"
  • Generally limited to microscopic anatomy.

Somatic (@NigelJ)

  • Etymology: From Greek, somatikos.
  • As the OP notes in a comment, somatic may itself be considered an answer to the question: What is the somatic term for words related to the body? Depending on what one is specifically referring to, other acceptable answers may include corpus, corpse, and corpuscle.
  1. of the body; bodily; physical.

  2. Anatomy, Zoology. pertaining to the body wall of an animal.

  3. Cell Biology. pertaining to or affecting the somatic cells, as distinguished from the germ cells.


  • What is the medical term for words associated with the heart?   Cardiac.


  • What is the scientific term for words associated with the brain?   Neural.


  • What is the Greek term for words associated with fingers?   Dactyl.


  • What are the Latin terms for words associated with fingers?   Phalanges or Digits.

Etymological Note

Most of the terms that answer the secondary question, come from Latin or Greek. Sometimes, a word of Latin origin was adopted into English via another language, such as French. Sometimes, a Latin word was itself derived from Greek. Sometimes there are multiple words derived from multiple sources to refer to the same substance. For instance, renal comes from Latin, while nephron comes from Greek, but it's a mystery where kidney comes from (perhaps a food item). Which should be used depends on regional preferences.

  • I think the preferred term would be "Anatomic". If it seems there is a strong desire for others to edit, will convert to a community wiki. (Not doing so up front b/c every community wiki I've created so far has seen zero edits by others.) – xiota May 25 '18 at 4:23
  • I’m not sure you needed to define Greek and Latin you know – BladorthinTheGrey May 25 '18 at 6:07
  • Plus a passing reference could be given to the users who proposed these answers in the comments if that’s where you got them – BladorthinTheGrey May 25 '18 at 6:08
  • I don't know what the general etiquette is. I personally prefer not to be referenced for comments, but don't mind if my answers are linked. Normally, I avoid preempting other's answers, but in this case, the comments appear to have been sitting around for days. – xiota May 25 '18 at 6:27
  • Yeah I see your point, I was going to dive in and suggest these answers but I held off in case they made their comments answers but doesn’t seem like it will happen. They’re good answers and it seems more polite to me to reference where you got them from it they weren’t from the top of your head. Rather than just links to medical, scientific, Greek and Latin I’d put in a bit of explanation. Is it anatomic that is Greek and Somatic Latin? – BladorthinTheGrey May 25 '18 at 6:31

"Adjectives to describe body parts, for example pulmonary and aural, can all be referred to as organic adjectives."

organic (ODOL)

3 Physiology
Relating to a bodily organ or organs. 3.1 Medicine (of a disease) affecting the structure of an organ.

Note however, that while organic has the precise meaning of "related to organ(s) of the body," that's just one of the myriad senses of the word extensively used not only in anatomy, but variously in chemistry and other sciences.

I for myself would adopt one of the two techniques:
"Adjectives to describe body parts, for example pulmonary and aural, can all be referred to as "organic" adjectives." -- scare quotes to signify "let's call it thus".

Or preferably and simply,
"Organic adjectives that describe body parts, for example pulmonary and aural." -- take it for granted that adjectives relating to organs are to be referred to thus, of course, so it needs no explanation.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.